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The best exhibitions in London this winter, from Chanel to Marina Abramović

Detail from Edgar Degas, Dancer Yawning (Dancer Stretching), 1873  (Private Collection, photo Alex Fox)
Detail from Edgar Degas, Dancer Yawning (Dancer Stretching), 1873 (Private Collection, photo Alex Fox)

With the seasons shifting, London’s many galleries and museums are also doing a reshuffle. From a fascinating Chanel retrospective to a gorgeous survey of portraits by Holbein, there’s plenty of art to get your teeth into this winter.

A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography

We Live in Silence IV, 2017, courtesy Kudzanai Chiurai and Goodman Gallery (Kudzanai Chiurai)
We Live in Silence IV, 2017, courtesy Kudzanai Chiurai and Goodman Gallery (Kudzanai Chiurai)

Bringing together a group of artists from different generations, this exhibition addresses how photography, film, audio, and more have been used to reimagine Africa’s diverse cultures and historical narratives, exploring the many ways images travel across histories and geographies via themes of spirituality, identity, urbanism and climate emergency.

Tate Modern, to January 14

Capturing the Moment

Gerhard Richter, Two Candles, 1982 (Gerhard Richter 2022 (0153))
Gerhard Richter, Two Candles, 1982 (Gerhard Richter 2022 (0153))

A unique chance to explore how some of the greatest modern painters and photographers of our time worked alongside each other using two distinct mediums, this show brings together significant works from the Tate collection and Yageo Foundation Collection spanning the past 100 years, and the work of 39 artists, from Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Alice Neel, to Hiroshi Sugimoto, Jeff Wall, Louise Lawler and Candida Höfer.

Tate Modern, to January 28

Diva

Whitney Houston performing at Wembley Arena, May 5, 1988 (David Corio)
Whitney Houston performing at Wembley Arena, May 5, 1988 (David Corio)

From the opera goddesses of the Victorian era to today’s global megastars, this show will celebrate the power and creativity of iconic performers, exploring and redefining what it means to be a diva and how this has been subverted or embraced over time across opera, stage, popular music, and film. Featuring fashion, photography, design, costumes, music and live performance, it looks at how the performer has intersected with society and driven change through their voice and art.

V&A, to April 7

Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto

L-R, Suit by Gabrielle Chanel, Paris,1969; suit, Paris, 1966, worn by Lauren Bacall; Coat, Paris, 1961, worn by Anne Gunning (Victoria and Albert Museum)
L-R, Suit by Gabrielle Chanel, Paris,1969; suit, Paris, 1966, worn by Lauren Bacall; Coat, Paris, 1961, worn by Anne Gunning (Victoria and Albert Museum)

The first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of French couturière Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel will chart the evolution of her iconic design style, from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910 to the showing of her final collection in 1971. Featuring over 180 looks, seen together for the first time, as well as jewellery, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes, the exhibition will explore Chanel’s pioneering approach to fashion design, which paved the way for a new feminine elegance and continues to influence the way women dress today

V&A, to February 25

Marina Abramović

The Serbian performance artist’s first major survey in the UK brings together over 50 works spanning her entire career, including performance works within the galleries. It explores how Abramović has reflected on the temporal nature of performance art by extending its impact through its traces: photographs, videos, objects, installations and re-performances of her works by young performers. It's bonkers, and you mustn’t miss it.

Royal Academy, to January 1

Sarah Lucas

Pauline Bunny, 1997 (Sarah Lucas)
Pauline Bunny, 1997 (Sarah Lucas)

One of the most enduring artists of the YBA era, Sarah Lucas is internationally celebrated for her bold, brash and provocative use of materials and imagery. Using ordinary objects in unexpected ways, she has consistently challenged our understanding of sex, class and gender over the past four decades.

Tate Britain, to January 14

Spies, Lies and Deception

Deception has always been used in wartime to gain an advantage over the enemy and protect our secrets. But in the grey area between war and peace, is deceit acceptable? And should we spy on our friends as well as our enemies? This major exhibition at IWM London looks at the tricks, lures and espionage that make up the secret world of deception.

Imperial War Museum, to April 14

Philip Guston

Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973 (The Estate of Philip Guston)
Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973 (The Estate of Philip Guston)

The long-awaited survey show for the celebrated American abstractionist finally arrives, exploring how his paintings, which shifted from the abstract to the near-cartoonish (and occasionally nightmarish) social and political upheavals of the late 1960s, bridged the personal and the political, the abstract and the figurative, the humorous and the tragic.

Tate Modern, to February 25

RE/SISTERS

This major group exhibition, which you’ve got to hope to God is done with a deft touch, explores the relationship between gender and ecology, highlighting the systemic links between the oppression of women and the degradation of the planet.

Barbican, to January 14

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Time Machine

Kenosha Theater, Kenosha by Hiroshi Sugimoto, 2015 (Hiroshi Sugimoto)
Kenosha Theater, Kenosha by Hiroshi Sugimoto, 2015 (Hiroshi Sugimoto)

This comprehensive survey of work by the internationally renowned artist and photographer will include work produced over the past five decades and feature selections from all of Sugimoto’s major photographic series, as well as lesser-known works that illuminate his innovative, conceptually-driven approach to making pictures.

Hayward Gallery, to January 7

Women in Revolt!

Helen Chadwick’s In the Kitchen (Stove), 1977 (© The Estate of the Artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London and Rome)
Helen Chadwick’s In the Kitchen (Stove), 1977 (© The Estate of the Artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London and Rome)

The first of its kind, this major survey of work by over 100 women artists working in the UK from 1970 to 1990 will focus on a diverse range of artists and media to explore and reflect on issues and events such as the Women’s Lib movement, the fight for legal change, maternal and domestic experiences, Rock Against Racism, Greenham Common and the peace movement, the visibility of black and South Asian women artists, Section 28 and the AIDs pandemic.

Tate Britain, to April 7

Imperial War Museum Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries

The new Blavatnik Art, Film and Photography Galleries will explore how artists, photographers and filmmakers together bear witness to, document and tell the story of conflict, and demonstrate how artistic interpretation can uniquely shape our understanding of war. New acquisitions will be exhibited alongside renowned works from IWM’s existing collection, including Gassed by John Singer Sargent, They Shall Not Grow Old by Peter Jackson and Steve McQueen’s Queen and Country.

Imperial War Museum, now open

Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec

 (Collection of David Lachenmann)
(Collection of David Lachenmann)

In the maelstrom of modernity that was late 19th-century France, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists radically transformed what we think of as art – and in the process, lifted the status of works on paper from something preparatory that you left in a studio or chucked away, to artworks in their own right. This show features around 70 works on paper by leading artists whose innovation would change art forever.

Royal Academy, to March 10

Holbein at the Tudor Court

This promises to be a stunning showcase, of one of the most important surviving collections of the work of Hans Holbein, including drawings, paintings, miniatures and book illustrations, to explore the career of the artist and the lives of those who commissioned portraits from him, from Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to Thomas More and the young Elizabeth I.  Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, to April 14